House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team told lawmakers Monday that they had no plans to immediately open impeachment proceedings against President Trump and would focus instead on investigations.
In an evening conference call, the leaders described the near-term strategy after the release of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report last week, with some in the Democratic Party pressing for the House to initiate steps to oust Trump.
According to three officials on the call, leaders told rank-and-file lawmakers — who were scattered across the nation, back in their districts for a two-week congressional recess — that investigative committees would continue their inquiries and see where they lead.
Even House Financial Services Chairman Maxine Waters, who last week warned that “Congress’ failure to impeach is complacency in the face of the erosion of our democracy and constitutional norms,” did not push the matter. Instead, the California Democrat, a vocal Trump critic who is probing the president’s business practices before he won the 2016 election, made a point of clarifying that she is not pressuring lawmakers to join her effort.
The call came just hours after Pelosi appeared to tap the brakes on impeachment discussions, arguing in a letter to her colleagues that while Democrats would hold Trump accountable for his actions in the Mueller report, they could do so without initiating impeachment hearings. The California Democrat wrote that Congress “will scrupulously assert Congress’s constitutional duty to honor our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution and our democracy” by investigating the president.
“Whether currently indictable or not, it is clear that the president has, at a minimum, engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior which does not bring honor to the office he holds,” Pelosi wrote.
But the speaker offered a word of caution on impeachment — a step pushed by some 2020 presidential hopefuls, most notably Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), in the days following the Mueller report. Without ruling out the concept altogether, Pelosi noted “it is … important to know that the facts regarding holding the president accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings.”
“While our views range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth,” Pelosi said, trying to strike a note of unity.
She added: “As we proceed to uncover the truth and present additional needed reforms to protect our democracy, we must show the American people we are proceeding free from passion or prejudice, strictly on the presentation of fact.”
So that's it, then.
Democrats are still acting like there's a non-impeachment solution to Donald Trump, and they will spend the next however many months looking for it.
As Trump grinds those efforts to a halt and slow-walks them through the Supreme Court, we'll be left cleaning up the mess of Trump's daily assaults on rule of law and his continuing normalization of his kleptocratic regime.
Perhaps we'll see a series of televised hearing where House Democrats lay out the case, but they will be drowned out in televised Senate Republican hearings where Obama administration officials and Clinton campaign people are grilled as traitors.
Still, Pelosi is basically asking us to trust her. For now, I don't think we have a better choice until we reach the point we're taking to the streets.